Tuesday, 29 November 2016


Aviva Awards

Thank you to all those who voted for the Elf Centre replacement building - we achieved over 4,000 votes which is enough to take us through to the finals phase next month.  The awards will be announced early January so fingers crossed!

FYI, the total cost of the project is £300,000. If all goes according to plan, we will be supported financially by the GWRT who received a legacy from a member, Tim Mitchell, which will be used for this purpose and the building will be named in his honour.

Anyway thanks again for all your support - that's what makes this a great railway!

All good wishes,


Chris Bristow
GWSR PLC Finance Director

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Help get us a new Elf Centre in Winchcombe - vote in the AVIVA Community Fund!

Dear all

Those of you reading this who are volunteers will already have seen from the VA that the railway has applied for a £25,000 grant from the Aviva Community Fund towards the fit out and  furnishing of the new Visitor Centre at Winchcombe. It is hoped that building will start early 2017 with project finished for the 2017 Santa’s season.

We need as many people as possible to go to the Aviva site, register and vote for our project.

If you read this and you write a blog could I please ask that you promote this on your blog to help spread the word, the link required is below as is the wording of the latest VA but please feel free to promote as you see fit.

Any questions please contact Maxine Barton-Hawkins.  Just to quickly say that I registered and voted a few weeks ago and I have received no junk emails from any organisation involved in the process.

Thanks for your help with this


Aviva Community Awards - A good start but we need more support

The voting for the GWSR Visitor Centre at the Aviva Community Awards has got off to a good start, at the 7th November the GWSR New Visitor Centre at Winchcombe Station has managed to collect 2,298 votes but that is far short of the 13,669 that the Clubhouse Balcony Restoration, Golden Hill Sports Hall Bristol has managed to secure.  

The Railway is looking for a £25,000 grant towards the estimated £75,000 cost of fitting out and furnishing the new Visitor Centre so please help us get a step closer to winning one of the grants by registering and then voting on at https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/16-937

Voting will close on 18th November 2017 with the winners being announced on the 10th January 2017.

Please encourage as many people as possible to vote for this worthwhile project

Monday, 7 November 2016

Update from the Boardroom

There have been two Plc Board Meetings in the last couple of months, and it is time that I gave you all an update on what we discussed and decided upon. the notes are necessarily brief, but I trust give a flavour of all the various matters we have to deal with constantly, to keep the railway moving forwards.

In September, we met at our now familiar time of Monday afternoon. The first decision we had to make was to consider and agree upon a proposal that our Young Volunteers Group be renamed The Youth Group. This is because all our volunteers are considered 'employees' for the purposes of Health & Safety legislation, and there are major restrictions on activities by young employees; thus the term 'Volunteer' should not be used in relation to them.

The final version of our in house GWR Safety Video has now been made, and it will be shown to as many volunteers as possible throughout the coming winter months.

We agreed a draft Job Description for the Station Management Groups, and those who are to be appointed as Heads of what will now be departments. This will make the overall reporting structure much clearer and easier to follow.

We received a report from Alan Bielby in his capacity as Projects Director about the unstable embankment between Childswickham Road and Evesham road. It appears that the best solution will be to remove all the loose excess ash which was dumped by BR, and then re-grade the embankment to make the slope shallower. If we deal with the problem on this basis, we shall try and get it done in Spring 2017 so as not to interfere too much with P/way. We do not yet have a cost, but were warned that it is going to be expensive.

There is a continuing amount of necessary work to be done to maintain our bridges, and we considered how best to introduce a bridge maintenance team to carry out routine work, such as weed clearance and repointing.

We were told that we would shortly be receiving minutes from the Volunteer Consultation Group, and would be asked to formalise replies to queries which are going to be raised. This is a very necessary way of trying to deal with and answer queries that the departmental representatives have.

We agreed to appoint Gary Cheetham as our Data Protection Officer.

At our meeting in October, we started as we always do by considering a list of outstanding actions which are carried forward from previous meetings. This is to ensure that nothing is 'lost', and that individuals who are tasked with dealing with certain items do actually do so. There are often well over 20 items on the list each month, before we start the actual agenda.

This month, we had received confirmation that the repair work on the Evesham Road bridge at Broadway was complete after lorry strikes. The works have cost us over £16,000 and we agreed to instruct solicitors to recover the money from those who are responsible.

We have agreed to trial new platform access ramps for use with our disabled coaches, and we agreed to buy one to use as an initial trial.

Colin Fewell our Commercial Director raised the issue of car parking capacity. On many mid week (and other days) now, the car park at Toddington is full, and there is no-where else to park. This may be exacerbated when we open to Broadway. There is no immediate solution, save to try and make better use of the space we have. The field behind P2 is only available to us for a very limited number of days each year.

Our Disciplinary & Grievance procedure is some years old and needs to be updated. A small sub-committee will consider necessary changes.

We received confirmation that all is in hand for work to start on the dismantling of the existing Elf Centre immediately after the end of the season, in readiness for the new building.

We had still not received any costings for the necessary work to stabilise the embankment at Broadway, and were assured that we should receive them shortly.

We were concerned to find that we had lost an estimated £7,000 due to the chaos surrounding the Cheltenham marathon clashing with our last THOMAS event. That said, it was accepted that we are never going to be able to recover that loss from anyone. It is disturbing that there is likely to be another clash next year, as we have already made the booking for the loco and timetables are being printed.

We agreed that as a thank you to our volunteers, that there would be another volunteers fish & chip train next year. The format will be the same as before.

We were told that the extension work was going to plan, and that we are about to cross the boundary from Gloucestershire into Worcestershire. A ceremony similar to crossing the equator for the first time was proposed for P/way! If the works to the unstable embankment have to take place in the Spring, a contingency plan is in place to ensure that momentum is not lost. In that event, P/way will begin working back from the north end of Broadway towards that embankment.

It was agreed that two directors would arrange to meet the owner of Peasebrook Farm Stud to see if the issues surrounding the proposed crossing there could be resolved satisfactorily before track is laid. (They subsequently have been).

It was pointed out to us that the use of the proposed new longer disabled access ramps, would potentially impact upon where the disabled coaches were in the rake, to avoid conflict with station fixtures.That in turn could impact upon the overall makeup of the rakes, so is something for further consideration before the new season starts. So often, dealing with one issue leads to others.

We were told that new safety arrangements were going to be brought in with relation to line-side photographic passes, to stop people wandering all over the place. All applicants would in future have to attend for PTS training, and all departmental heads would be issued with plans showing precisely where those with the passes could, and could not go.

It was confirmed that the charitable Santa event for the childrens hospices was to be on Sunday 27th November. This will take children from Acorns Hospice and Winston's Wish to visit Santa.

Richard Johnson

Friday, 4 November 2016

An update on visitor numbers as at beginning of November

Following on from Chris's comments, I can report that up to the end of October we saw just over 80,000 visitors. If you add to that the santa tickets sold so far - 5960, and other sales such as fire and drive, race week and fish and chips etc., we are already over last year's record total of 88,500 so unless we are snowed off - please no!!!! - we will have a new record this year. Will we reach the magic 100,000 though??? Not sure about that but watch this space!
Colin Fewell

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Update on 'Broadway - the last mile' share issue and this year's running season results - good news!

Dear Supporters of the railway,

I hope you are all well.

It is some time since I last updated you on the share issue. Although income has slowed down as expected, I don't think there's been a single day when we haven't had requests for shares or donations for Broadway to the GWRT and the total now stands at more than £880,000.

I always felt if we could get more than £900,000 by Christmas (surely now almost certain) we should be able to ask our supporters to finish the funding in the New Year in the time leading up to the share issue close on 30 April.

So, all good news on fund raising and many thanks to all those who have so generously contributed!

You will be pleased to know that all 3 deliveries of rail from British Steel have been laid and welded as planned. All the bottom ballast is in place up to Peasebrook Farm from where the station site is clearly discernible and looks tantalizingly close!

Things go on apace at the Broadway site and our plan is to open the line and the station towards the end of March 2018 with the first timetabled trains on Good Friday 30 March 2018!

I was out on the line the other day and caught the permanent way train at Little Buckland bridge simmering in the sunshine - all looked very professional with the ballast, sleeper and rail wagons.

The current Permanent Way works are bringing the line across the Gloucestershire Worcestershire boundary (for the first time since 1979) and we are about to report this in the railway press and media.

Other than that, I'm pleased to tell you that the railway has had another excellent, probably new record, operating season. Yesterday was the last normal operating day and the only trains in November will be for the Cheltenham races. Then we are onto the Santa trains in December for which bookings are currently running 15% ahead of this time last year. It's all go!

Take care,


GWSR Crosses the border into Worcestershire!

02 November 2016
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway crosses county boundary into Worcestershire
  • Railway's Broadway extension extends into Worcestershire
  • 'Broadway: The Last Mile' share offer passes £880,000
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway's extension towards Broadway has reached another significant milestone – this time a geographical one, as track laying has crossed Gloucestershire's boundary with Worcestershire, near Little Buckland.
In October, the railway took delivery of its third of three orders for brand-new steel rail, purchased from the recently-renamed (formerly Tata) British Steel rolling mill at Scunthorpe.   With ex-Network Rail concrete sleepers already in stock, it has sufficient track materials to complete this year's work programme, getting ever closer to Broadway.
Lee Alibone, the railway's permanent way director, said: “Crossing the county boundary is a huge boost for the railway and especially for our volunteer permanent way gang. They've been working flat-out to lay countless concrete sleepers, each weighing nearly a quarter of a tonne, then clipping the rail to them and welding the joints together.  Now, we are literally within sight of Broadway stationapproximately three-quarters of a mile away!
“The line is being laid to the highest possible standards. Not only are we using brand-new, flat-bottomed rail exactly the same as on the national network, but we are continuously welding it which will reduce maintenance and future-proof the line for generations to come.
“We are also using thousands of tonnes of stone ballast which comes from a Forest of Dean quarry. And we are using track aligning and levelling equipment provided by specialist contractors, to make the line ready for trains. It's exactly the same kind of kit that is used on Network Rail.”
Three years ago, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway – or 'Honeybournel Line' – refurbished the five bridges between Laverton, the then northern extent of the line, and Broadway at a cost of over £500,000.
Meanwhile, construction of the new station building at Broadway by the Broadway Area Group of volunteers is also pressing ahead a quickly as possible to make sure it is ready when the track reaches the town.
Mr Alibone continued: “We are certainly well on target to complete the extension by 2018.
“Given the progress we are making, you might expect us to finish the job sooner. However, the current share issue must reach its £1.25m target to ensure this, while there remains a huge amount of work to do before trains can run.  
“But the work we have completed so far, to the highest professional standards, just shows what can be achieved by volunteers with good planning and determination.  
“When it’s finished it will bring a huge economic boost to the region.
“This is such a worthwhile project that will put Broadway firmly back on the railway map. For the first time since 1960, Broadway people will be able to catch a train to Cheltenham!”
The railway is planning a grand opening of Broadway station in Spring 2018.
Meanwhile, the special 'Broadway: The Last Mile' share offer remains open until April 2017.
Mr Alibone adds: “A share in our remarkable railway might be the perfect answer for anyone stumped for Christmas gift ideas - or as a treat for yourself!
“Our website, www.gwsr.com has full details including the offer document and an application form.
“Our fantastic shareholders don't just own a special piece of the railway, but they get to have a say in how it is run – and have free travel opportunities, too! We are really grateful for their continued strong support”

Ian Crowder and Lee Alibone